Do you want to share your audiobook with the 20 million users listening to streaming music on Spotify?
Author Craig Seymour self-funded an audiobook edition of his memoir, All I Could Bear: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington D.C. earlier this year. Inspired by a GalleyCat article with SoundCloud advice for writers, he decided to upload the audiobook to both SoundCloud and Spotify.
Follow this link to listen to his book on Spotify. Spotify has very few audiobooks, so we conducted an email interview with Seymour to find out how he added his book to the music service. He provided some step-by-step instructions.
How To Put Your Audiobook on Spotify: Interview with Craig Seymour
1. What steps did you take to put your audiobook on Spotify?
I initially made my audiobook available through Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange program or ACX. This allowed me to get the book on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. But I deliberately chose the non-exclusive distribution option, even though it paid a lower royalty rate. In these days of ever-changing technology, I wanted the option of putting my book on other sites. For instance, I knew that a lot of people, me included, increasingly used SoundCloud and Spotify to stream music. I figured that these sites would also be good for streaming audiobooks. Getting the book on SoundCloud was relatively easy, because SoundCloud allows users to directly upload content. But Spotify was more of challenge, because you have to go through a third-party in order to get your content on the site.
Spotify provides a list of, what they call, “Artist Aggregators,” which are basically services that you can use in order to get stuff on the site. The list is great, but it can be a little overwhelming. There are more than a dozen services to choose from and there are lots of different factors to consider. Also, all of the services charge a fee for distributing content and the fees range widely from one-time charges to monthly and yearly fees. The other thing is that most of the services are music-centered, so they distribute your content to a range of different music sites, including iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and Google Play, among others.
I ultimately went with a service called Record Union. It was one of the few services that allowed me the flexibility of only putting my content on Spotify. Since I was already a part of the ACX distribution network, I had iTunes, Amazon, and Audible covered.
It was very easily to set-up a Record Union account. I paid an initial fee (renewable annually) for uploading an “album,” which was my audiobook. Now, here’s where things get a little tricky. All of the Spotify’s “Artist Aggregator” sites define an “album” differently in terms of the number of tracks it can have. Of course, books often have a lot more chapters than albums have songs. Record Union charges $11 to upload an album of 12 tracks. Then, it costs $1.50 for each additional track. My audiobook has 27 tracks, including the chapters, prologue, and credits. At first, I thought about combining some of the chapters into a single track. But ultimately, I decided to pay for the extra tracks and keep the book as it was. I thought it was easier and more user-friendly to stream an audiobook chapter-by-chapter.
I uploaded the book and, less than a week later, it was live on Spotify.
2. Any formatting advice for other writers looking to put an audiobook on Spotify?
The formatting basically depends on the aggregator you use. Record Union was really simple. I just had to format my original audio files into wavs. (Actually, ACX’s standards are much higher and more specific. If you follow those, you’ll be good for Spotify. I strongly recommend that people familiarize themselves with these guidelines before they start recording their audiobook. It’s important for D.I.Y. operations and also for the engineer to know if you’re recording it in a studio.)
3. Can you keep track of how many people are listening to your audiobook on Spotify?
Yes. Another reason that I chose Record Union is that they’re the only service to offer Spotify Trends, which is an analytic tool that allows you to monitor plays. Also, because Spotify is a subscription service that collects data about its members, Spotify Trends also enables you to keep track of the age, gender, and geographic location of your listeners. My audiobook hasn’t been up long enough to generate any results, but I can’t wait to start playing with this.
4. Is there any way for you to earn royalties on your audiobook on Spotify? If so, how does it work?
Royalties are a somewhat murky issue when it comes to Spotify. They do pay royalties, but there’s a lot of controversy and debate over how those are determined. The indie band Grizzly Bear once tweeted: “Spotify might be good for exposure but after 10K plays we get approx 10 dollars.” Basically, they pay you a certain percentage based upon the number of times your tracks were streamed in relation to all of the site’s streams for the month. Most estimates say that it works out to about $0.005 – $0.006 per track, which is no great immediate moneymaker.
But I chose to put my audiobook on Spotify, not simply for sales, but mainly for these two reasons:
1) To help expand my audience beyond the traditional book-buying and audiobook-listening audience
2) To make it easy for people who enjoyed the print book to re-experience the material (in my own voice) and also make it easy for them to share the book with others.
For me, getting on Spotify is part of a long term strategy to build my audience and provide interesting content to people who are already supporters of my work.